Nationwide hepatitis C screening campaign initiated by the Malaysian Ministry of Health

  • Supported by Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative & Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, campaign seeks to find the “missing millions” for this silent but curable disease

Geneva, Switzerland – 17 July 2019 – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) are partnering with the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Malaysia to launch the country’s biggest-ever screening initiative for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The #MYmissingmillions campaign, announced ahead of World Hepatitis Day 2019, aims to raise awareness of the importance of early HCV diagnosis and to ensure that all Malaysians have the opportunity to be tested and receive highly effective treatment, for free. It is estimated that there are around 400,000 people living with hepatitis C in Malaysia. More than 71 million people worldwide are chronically infected, over 80% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  It’s a silent epidemic, as the huge majority of those infected are not aware of their status, show no symptoms of the disease, and therefore do not seek treatment.

The partnership will offer Malaysians, especially those considered to be at high risk, the opportunity to be screened for free in July using a simple rapid diagnostic test at more than 100 hospitals, primary healthcare centres and FIND study sites located across the country’s 14 states. All patients confirmed as having active HCV (viremia) will be linked to care at local government healthcare facilities where direct-acting antiviral therapy is available.

The #MYmissingmillions campaign is part of the Malaysian MoH’s wider efforts to simplify and decentralize hepatitis C screening and treatment. The Malaysian national HCV programme, following an ambitious treatment strategy to overcome the prohibitively high cost of treatments in the country, offers free hepatitis C treatment (sofosbuvir/daclatasvir) in government hospitals.

DNDi and FIND hope that their support can further propel the government’s strategy to find the #MYmissingmillions.

The FIND Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start) project is funded by Unitaid. It builds on earlier work supported by the government of the Netherlands, and UK aid from the British people.

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About FIND
FIND is a global non-profit organization that drives innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics to combat major diseases affecting the world’s poorest populations. Our work bridges R&D to access, overcoming scientific barriers to technology development; generating evidence for regulators and policy-makers; addressing market failures; and enabling accelerated uptake and access to diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Since 2003, we have been instrumental in the delivery of 24 new diagnostic tools. Over 50 million FIND-supported products have been provided to 150 LMICs since the start of 2015. A WHO Collaborating Centre, we work with more than 200 academic, industry, governmental, and civil society partners worldwide, on over 70 active projects that cross six priority disease areas. FIND is committed to a future in which diagnostics underpin treatment decisions and provide the foundation for disease surveillance, control and prevention.

About DNDi
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit R&D organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected patients, in particular for sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, filaria, mycetoma, paediatric HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C virus (HCV). DNDi’s ambition is to enable access to HCV treatment, through the development and registration of affordable, safe, and efficacious pan-genotypic direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), and by supporting policy change and political will to remove barriers to access to DAAs globally.

Media contact
FIND: Sarah-Jane Loveday, Head of Communications
T: +41 (0) 22 710 27 88
M: +41 (0) 79 431 62 44

DNDi South East Asia: Molly Jagpal
M: +60 (0) 12 546 8362

DNDi Geneva: Moyette Gibbons
T: +41 22 555 19 29
M: +41 79 940 9017